on 21 February 2013
Amanda Knox was a twenty year old honors student when she left Seattle in 2007 to study abroad for a year in Perugia, Italy.
Three weeks into the semester roommate Meredith Kercher was brutally raped and murdered while she and two other roommates were out. Amanda was first on the scene, and later had to wait outside the apartment, numb with shock and shivering in the cold, while police investigated.
Her fetching good looks apparently aroused frustrated anger in police investigators. When her boyfriend covered her with his jacket, gave her a comforting embrace, and exchanged a couple of gentle kisses, it was more than they could endure. One who had spoken with her contemptuously remarked that she "smelled of sex." Prosecutor Mignini could tell by looking at her that she was "dirty on the inside." Edgardo Giobbi of Italy's Serious Crimes Squad asked her to slip on plastic booties and show him around the apartment. He was studying her tush as she leaned to the task, and to his surprise, he swears, she swiveled it provocatively at him and shouted, "Hoopla!" Immediately, he says, his suspicions were aroused. Female detectives, observing how their male co-workers were affected, quickly acquired an intense hatred for her. [Search YouTube for title: Amanda Knox - Behavior = Guilt/Giobbi:"Case Closed"]
Police settled accounts with Amanda in an all-night interrogation. There is no video or even stenographer's transcript of what transpired. Amanda says she was denied refreshments, bathroom breaks, and most of all, sleep. Police angrily shouted that they had irrefutable proof she had been there when Meredith was killed and demanded she confess. When she denied their accusations, she was struck in the back of the head and called a "stupid liar". Finally a kindly translator explained to her that she was suffering from some powerful psychological trauma that caused her to lose all memory of that fatal night. After hours of abuse police elicited from her vague "visions" of covering her ears in terror as her boss from the local bar where she worked raped and murdered her roommate.
Amanda, her boyfriend, and bar owner Patrick Lamumba were arrested and paraded through Perugia in police cars with sirens wailing and lights flashing. Police declared "case closed." There was no motive so they fed local tabloids wildly prurient tales of a group sex game gone wrong. Amanda, the story went, vindictively seduced her boss and boyfriend into raping and murdering her roommate for criticizing her sloppy housekeeping habits.
Subsequently the lab work from the crime scene was processed with surprising results. All bloody fingerprints, footprints, DNA, etc., belonged either to Meredith Kercher or a local drifter named Rudy Guede. Guede had a history of similar break-ins, and had just been released from police custody for one a few weeks earlier. Police quickly picked him up, but rather than admit their mistake or cut Knox loose grudgingly threw him in as yet another participant.
Guede's story was that he met Meredith in a bar and she invited him back to the apartment to have sex. During their sexual tryst he had a sudden urge for a bowel movement, and while on the toilet someone slipped into the apartment and murdered Meredith. Rudy was sentenced to thirty years in a separate trial, but Mignini had the sentence reduced to sixteen years in return for implicating Amanda and her boyfriend as participants.
Enter Nina Burleigh...
She wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
"When I went to Perugia in 2009, as Knox's testimony began, to research a book on the case, I didn't know whether she was guilty as charged, but I was certainly willing to believe it.
"... After a few weeks in Perugia, I saw that there was something very wrong with the narrative of the murder that the authorities and the media were presenting. There was almost no material evidence linking Knox or her boyfriend to the murder, and no motive, while there was voluminous evidence -- material and circumstantial -- implicating a third person, a man, whose name one almost never read in accounts of the case. It became clear that it wasn't facts but Knox -- her femaleness, her Americaness, her beauty -- that was driving the case."
Burleigh's meticulously researched book shows there was no physical or forensic evidence linking Amanda to the murder of Meredith Kercher. Any such evidence introduced by police was ultimately exposed as worthless and possibly fraudulent. The remaining evidence presented at trial consisted almost entirely of unsubstantiated accusations of imagined prurient sexual behavior. This reporters like John Follian seized upon with relish in sensational tabloid stories under headlines like:
AMANDA KNOX, `FOXY KNOXY', REVEALS HER LESBIAN TRAUMA
AMANDA KNOX SNARED BY HER LUST AND HER LIES
FOXY KNOXY THE `SHE-DEVIL' WAITS SERENE
DIARY REVEALS FOXY KNOXY'S SEX SECRETS
Nina Burleigh is a breath of fresh air. Here are some of her accounts of evidence presented against Amanda Knox in court:
The G-String Underwear (p. 181)
"When the police sent them home early Saturday evening, Amanda and Raffaele went shopping. Amanda needed some clean underwear. She had her period and was still wearing the clothes she'd put on the morning before Meredith's body was found. She and Raffaele went to Bubbles, one of the cheaper of the overpriced clothing shops in the Perugia centro... The underwear, lots of thongs, were laid out on a table. The loss-prevention camera captured Amanda and Rafaele together at that table at 7 pm, picking through the lingerie, stopping to hug and kiss.
"After they were arrested, the video was valuable and the owner sold it and his own narration, including his memory of Raffaele saying, "Now we'll go home and have wild sex," to the Italian television networks, which looped it alongside the tape of the couple hugging outside the murder house. Raffaele's father sued Bubbles for releasing it."
The British Girls (pp. 233, 256)
Nina Burleigh (The Fatal Gift of Beauty) p. 233
"Based on records of the Kercher murder investigation, from police witness conversations that took place at the questura, and later, after Amanda's statement and arrest ... Amanda's chief accusers - the British girls - shared different memories before and after the arrest. In their first conversations at the questra, none told police that Meredith disliked Amanda. ... Six weeks later, interviewed in Bergamo in northern Italy, with Amanda's confession widely disseminated, the British girls first began recalling Meredith's unease about Amanda's bathroom habits and her weird boy friends. They also talked about their own impressions of Amanda in the questura, hours after poor Meredith was murdered, about watching her making out with Raffael at the questura, her curious callousness."
Burleigh, p. 256:
"The `British girls' arrived at the Tribunale together on February 13, 2009, tweedy, peaches-and-cream-complected sylphs who moved as a pack. Their testimony was so similar that observers thought they seemed robotic or coached. They repeated exactly what they had shared with police in Bergamo in 2008, when they described Meredith's annoyance with Amanda's strange male visitors, guitar playing, and hygiene, and Amanda's callous behavior at the police station...
"Amanda Knox reportedly turned to her lawyers and said, `Wow, it didn't take long for them to hate me.'"
Amanda claims to have had a good relationship with Meredith Kercher in the three weeks she knew her, and wrote to Burleigh from prison:
"How young women experience the world and how the world experiences young women ...It's an age old question, isn't it? ... I guess any and every young woman can become a story, because I feel like I'm not really so special... It's like we're [Meredith] both in this together and I'm really baffled sometimes by how something so big and exceptional could have happened to both of us, how different our lives became, how horribly hers ended, all of a sudden without us even seeing it coming. It's so big, and so sad."
During a court appearance seeking an appeal, she also apologized for having falsely accused her boss Patrick Lamumba:
"I was wrong to think that there are times and places to say important things; rather, important things just need to be said, and that's all.
"The one thing I'm sorry about now is that there are people I want to speak to who aren't here. Still I hope my words reach you, because either I'm locked up in prison or I'm here. And...I'm here.
"Patrick? I don't see you. But I'm sorry because I didn't mean to do wrong to you. I was very naïve and not courageous at all; I should have been able to withstand the pressures that caused me to do harm to you. I didn't mean to contribute to what you have suffered. You know what it means to have unjust accusations imposed on your skin. You didn't deserve what you experienced and I hope you will be able to find peace."
Amanda Knox spent the years from age 20 to 24 in an Italian prison before finally being acquitted on appeal. Four of the most essential years in this young girl's life are forever lost to her, and she is still hounded by those who cannot surrender the delusion she is a sexually depraved killer.
Meredith Kercher suffered an even worse fate, losing her life at the age of twenty-one. Prosecutor Mignini succeeded in getting her killer's thirty year sentence reduced to sixteen, so that with good behavior Rudy Guede will likely be set free in 2015.
Burleigh's is the best explanation to date of how a tragic but fairly common and straightforward crime was convoluted by corrupt police and a mentally unbalanced prosecutor into such a bizarre and tragic resolution.